The Swedish giant’s urban SUV is an understated all-rounder and offers a value-for-money alternative to its competitors, says Ed Coles
I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of this cheeky little number from Volvo. The Volvo XC40 is the youngest sibling in the XC family and, though billed as an “urban SUV”, it could, as a country-urban crossover, tick a few Shooting Times boxes.
The smallest XC is big on personality and gadgets and at a glance, it looks like the stocky Volvo heritage is in there too. Anyone who grew up in the 1980s will remember how big and metal-box-like Volvos were, but I’m pleased to say things have moved on.
Volvo XC40 – easy on the eye
The XC40 is a curvy cube, for want of a better description, but is quite easy on the eye. Six varieties of XC40 are available and come in various trim levels with a choice of petrol, diesel or hybrid power. This flavour of XC40 is the R-Design Pro B5 all-wheel drive automatic, so it has a few more sporty looking bits, like those 20in diamond cut/black alloys, black grille and roof. It doesn’t look over the top. Let’s call it golf club classy.
This little upstart comes with a two-litre, four-cylinder engine and an automatic gearbox. Stabled within are 250 Swedish horses, which produce 350Nm of torque. Combined with Volvo’s all-wheel drive system, this could be right up our country lane.
With ground clearance of 211mm and a wading depth of 450mm, the Volvo XC40 looks like it could manage some rural tasks. The 20in low-profile tyres may be the weak link.
Pulling out the trusty feed bag for a look underneath, there are glimpses of independent sports suspension and permanent 4×4 running gear, but most of Volvo’s new compact modular architecture is shielded by plastic.
On the styling front, it’s bold yet elegant with its big grille and retina-burning active bending LED lights. I quite like the colour combined with the dark interior. There is reasonable boot space and this version has a two-stage boot liner, so if you have a tall pooch you can lower the floor for a bit more canine headroom.
Hint of sportiness
Using the standard Shooting Times unit of measure, there is space for seven or eight bags of wheat. There is room for weekday essentials and weekend sporting luggage, 30in barrels in a slip fit snugly and a medium-sized dog box would squeeze in.
The R-Design Pro’s interior is luxurious with a hint of sportiness. The seats are crafted in a sporting fashion, fully electric and heated. The optional full black leather seats are fitted in this one. The dark, almost minimalist, interior with contrasting silver trim exudes a certain quality. The upgraded Harman Kardon speakers and sound system are elegantly worked into the door pockets and dash. A central 9in touchscreen is where everything is controlled and adjusted, be it the satnav, climate control, audio or any of the multitude of driver settings and aids.
All the usual suspects are on board: voice-activated controls, satnav, cruise control, parking assistance, hill start, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay connectivity along with Bluetooth and all manner of media attachments.
Despite being the baby XC, it is a proper little Tardis in here, with plenty of room for all the family.
Volvo’s reputation for safety shines through with the driver aids and airbags fitted. For town and motorway driving, pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane warning control and collision avoidance are among the fitted safety sorcery.
There are five driving modes which fettle the engine and gearbox settings. Comfort is the default and sets everything to be, well, comfortable. Eco adjusts the engine and gearbox settings to maximise fuel economy. Gear changes occur at lower revs.
Dynamic mode tweaks everything to be a bit more sporty. Engine and gearbox settings are livened up, the power steering is eased off and the brake response is increased. Off-road mode works below 25mph. Hill descent is activated and the power steering is increased to make the steering lighter. The engine, gearbox and all-wheel drive settings are fettled to handle challenging surfaces. Individual allows the driver to adjust all and sundry according to personal preference.
With the interior adjusted to suit, it’s time to take it for a spin. Negotiating the country lanes is quite a lot of fun. The XC40’s sporty suspension handles well and feels reassuringly stable around the corners. Driving on our bumpy village road, it handles the potholes well. You can appreciate the level of comfort inside the cabin. The driving is effortless.
With Dynamic mode selected, it is time to venture out on the open road. Engaging heavy right foot, the two-litre motor soon gets into its stride and rattles through the gearbox. With a 0 to 60mph of 6.1 seconds, the R-Design has enough to get the pulse racing. Cruising along, it is smooth and comfortable. Long and short journeys are a pleasure.
Now it’s time to check on my pheasants and partridges in Off-road mode. Going through the wood, I am extra careful not to scratch anything and the XC40 handles the tight corners and track well. Despite the suspension being more sporty, it doesn’t feel too hard over the ruts and negotiates obstacles well.
Going across the stubble to check my partridges is effortless for the XC40. It would have been nice to have a bit of wet ground to fully test the all-wheel drive and the grip on the low-profile tyres, but I’m impressed. The Swedes have done good.
All in all, A pretty good effort from the Volvo XC40. It offers a nice balance of off-road ability and urban refinement. Perfect for day-to-day living, with the potential for off-piste excursions if the urge arises. A day of early-season picking-up or other country escapade is quite feasible in the XC40. The level of kit is impressive and the finish is refined, with a high-end feel.
So, ultimately, how many shekels will we have to part with? The entry-level Volvo XC40 has a reasonable on-the-road price of £25,285. This R-Design Pro comes in at £38,865. Throw in another £2,250 for the Lounge pack, which includes the upgraded sound system, and £850 for metallic paint and we are nudging over £40,000. That isn’t cheap, but when you take into account the level of trim compared with its competitors, it actually looks slightly better value for money.
There is an impressive array of equipment in the XC40, from audio system to satnav, all of which is controlled from the central 9in touchscreen
NEED TO KNOW
- Manufacturer Volvo
- Model XC40 R-Design Pro B5
- Power 250bhp, 350Nm
- Top speed 112mph
- 0 to 60mph (secs) 6.1
- Emissions (g/km) 174 to 186
- Fuel economy combined (mpg) 34.4 to 36.7
- Towing weight (braked) 2,100kg
- Towing weight (unbraked) 750kg
- Payload 495kg
A pretty good effort